By Brianna Guillory @BLOATEDNANI
We did it, America.
We did our duty and voted.
Our voices were heard loud and clear and the results of Election Day reflected just that. It confirmed to us that America was still great. Is still great. The majority of us had the same unified vision of what we thought our country was and could be.
However, on that same night of Nov. 8, all 61,039,676 of our unified voices were silenced by a debatable system. Hillary Clinton — while admittedly not perfect — was seen as our country’s only saving grace. But she lost,despite having a projected popular lead by more than two million.
Now, what do we do?
The critical point, now that tears have dried and the anger has morphed into reason, is how do we react to this pending future of fear and frustration?
Conform to the hate and retaliate with similar behavior? Take a stand against it, as the many protesters have done?
Apathy is what got us here. That can’t be it.
To find the solution, we first need to ask ourselves the true question, which is not “What do we do?” It is actually another, more important question: what will YOU do? Unifying this country will require each citizen taking the responsibility of having a role in unity.
Because this is about more than just an election. It always has been. When President-Elect Donald Trump’s candidacy became the punchline to this twisted joke, the situation became apparent. It wasn’t so much what he brought to the table. That we could deal with; we’ve had difficult leaders before. We as a nation have faced far worse and prevailed.
This, though, is about the guests that followed him, the sleeping giant he awakened. Trump’s campaign brought out a side of America we assumed was dying out with the birth of new generations. We were brainwashed to believe it. We should have known better.
For us minorities, who have always felt most of the burden of inequality, here is what we should do: proceed in proving those who oppose us wrong.
We have to avoid remaining jaded and stagnant, continuing the fight for proper acknowledgment, opportunity and respect. We also need to suck it up and build relationships, educate and rescue whoever is willing from the grasps of hate. However hopeless it may seem.
We didn’t deserve this. Our fear for ourselves, our children and our loved ones is justified. Yet we have a role, even if it is simply standing up to wrong, not allowing such cancer to normalize.
This is important because this is not merely the selection of another dud president we’ll have to tolerate for a term or two. Most of us, including many of the Trump supporters, were blatantly bashed on his campaign trail. His election strikes a different chord. Trump winning isn’t so frightening because of his policy, but because he got it by unshackling hatred in this country.
Countless Immigrants, Muslims, Asians, Native Americans, African-Americans, disabled, women and members of the LGBTQ community across the U.S., especially those in “red” states, have experienced the excruciating bite from the hellhound Trump unchained. Presuming to be past the worst part, minorities are back to being verbally abused, women sexually assaulted, queers violently attacked.
Trump’s slogan of “Making America Great Again” was really code for recreating America where white men were exalted while all others oppressed. Trump’s election makes that time en vogue again, like ‘90s fashion trends coming back. Except it’s not cool.
Closet white supremacists and radical conservatives saw Trump’s win as a gateway to abusively ostracize those who acted different from their ideals, whose skin wasn’t pure enough for their taste, whose land they coveted, whose gender they found lesser.
For our allies and supporters who exist in the “privileged,” community, here is what you should do: help us.
If you are truly with us, then prove it. Like the late Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Educate those who hate us or think of us as lesser humans in places where we would not stand a chance of having a voice. Empathize with us and acknowledge our fears. Don’t just keep saying that we need to “move forward” from this point. We have been moving forward for centuries as fast as we can, or else we would not even have come as far as we have now.
With that in mind, maybe Hillary wasn’t the saving grace after all. Maybe this moment in time is exactly the dose of medication our union needed. What if the election of Trump is like a flu vaccination, injecting us with an old virus to shield us in the future? Sure, we’re sick from it now. But we might need this for the antibodies to develop.
Trump showed our nation’s true colors, revealed just how much work this broken up country truly needs. We were addicted to corruption, fear and conflict.
Not even the Bay Area, America’s diverse bubble, has been immune to this behavior. On the night of Trump’s election win, Esra Altun, a Muslim-American student at San Jose State University — located in the heart of the progressive Silicon Valley capital — was attacked for wearing a hijab.
This our America. Our true America. Split down the middle. Transparency at its scariest.
For my fellow minorities who went against the grain just because they got deterred by a few emails, here is what you should do: take a good, long look at yourselves and what you have done.
Shame on you for being a part of the problem. Shame on you for aiding the bigoted movement that Trump instituted. You have become a painted black sheep in the wrong pasture.
That small percentage you contributed was the final thrust on the crowbar breaking open Pandora’s box. The consequences have been immediate. A rise in hate speech and behaviors, threats to basic human rights, severing of international alliances. This is always what was at stake, a consideration you missed or severely miscalculated in pursuit of whatever trivial single issue for which you chose him.
We will have plenty time to throw darts at Trump (hopefully just four years). There will be ample discussion over his cabinet, his policies, his handling of events sure to arise. But for now, we need to address us.
We are, first and foremost, a democracy. Corruption could not have risen to power without us. We chose this. We brought this on ourselves. We have to make amends.
It is time to own up. Because we can do better.